UK Defense Secretary Tells Afghans To Flee Across Borders Instead Of Going To Airport
Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace issued surprising and controversial statements during a meeting with members of parliament Wednesday. He urged Afghans who previously had been admitted to the UK on study or fellowship opportunities to escape by land across borders to a neighboring country rather than trying to make it to Kabul’s international airport at this point.
“If they think they can make it to a third country, that may be a better option,” he was cited in The Guardian as saying. “I recommend that they try and make it to the border,” Wallace advised.
He explained his rationale for offering the urgent directive, saying “it is higher profile going to the airport – that is where the Taliban will be focusing their efforts at the moment” – with the implication that the Taliban are actively trying to thwart the civilian rush to get to the airport, via lots of armed checkpoints.
“What we don’t want to do is trigger a surge or a stampede and we’ve already seen a number of people killed,” Wallace told the meeting further amid plans for continued airlifts, including non-British nationals who qualify under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
After Thursday’s double-bombing of crowded gates at the airport, there’s likely more Afghans that will take him up on the advice. One of the reported suicide attacks, now widely being blamed on ISIS-K terrorists, took place outside the Baron hotel, where the British army has a heavy presence and Afghan civilians are seeking entry for UK airlifts.
However, Afghanistan’s neighboring governments are likely not too pleased at such a top UK official actively telling Afghans to go directly to their countries.
Afghanistan shares borders with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan Iran, Pakistan, and shares a tiny sliver with China.
Interestingly, Russia has of late helped Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in particular with border defense – even staging ‘counter-terror’ drills with both nations in recent weeks.
Thu, 08/26/2021 – 13:50